Real Business: Making the most of the Xmas Rush

Writing for Real Business, Account Manager Kevin Winfield outlines three last minute steps to make the most of the Christmas rush.

For many, Christmas marks a time for tacky jumpers, eating your body weight in mince pies and one too many sherries at the office party. But for product-based businesses, Christmas presents an exciting opportunity to increase sales.

In 2014, it was reported that the UK spent more money on Christmas presents than any other nation in Europe, with Brits spending around £16.2bn in total.

How can you utilise the festive period to drive product sales in such a crowded market at one of the most competitive times of the year?

Holiday gift guides provide the perfect opportunity to place your product directly in front of potential customers, eager to spend their cash. Timing is everything, and as much as we don’t want to be thinking of Christmas in August, a lot of consumer publications start to think of their gift guides in the Summer, with many finalised months before the big day.

If you’ve been a little slow on the uptake this year and are only just getting into the holiday spirit, there are still some things you can do to make the most of the Christmas rush.

(1) Last minute gift guides

While many publications will have finalised their gift guides months ago, there are a handful that will still be looking for products to feature last minute.

Focusing on the media your customers read, you can begin picking out a small number to approach to see if they are still putting last minute seasonal features together.

(2) Online features 

Some businesses may see print media coverage as the holy grail. However, online coverage provides a number of benefits, particularly for product-based companies looking to increase their sales last minute.

Online publications and blogs have a much more fluid lead time so you can approach them in mid November/early December and still be in with a chance of being featured. In addition, online guides can often come with the coveted direct link back to your website where the reader can immediately purchase the product. They also provide something to share across your social media platforms, extending your potential reach.

In order to start approaching online publications about their seasonal gift features, it’s essential to do your research and spend some quality time with Google. Who wrote the gift guide last year? What kind of products did it include? How could your product fit into it? Asking these questions could save you the awkward conversation of trying to pitch the latest in wearable tech to a gift guide looking for beige home interiors.

Once you’ve worked out who you want to target and how your product will fit with their gift guide, try to tailor each pitch to fit with the person you’re speaking to and the type of guide they’re working on. Showing you understand the publication and its readers will play an important role in whether your product is featured or not.

(3) Get social

So it’s two weeks before Christmas and you feel you missed the gift guide train? Using your company’s social media channels can be a cost effective way to increase your sales around the holidays.

Platforms such as Twitter are not just for larger, already established brands. Smaller companies are perfecting their social media presence everyday and, with just a little effort, the field can be levelled. Instagram in particular has grown in favour with smaller businesses in recent years. If you’re product is particularly visual you should consider using the image-based platform as part of your social media strategy.

Attaching simple hashtags such as #ChristmasPresent, #SecretSanta and #LastMinuteShopping to your posts will allow you to hijack those topics that are trending over the holidays and give your posts a higher potential reach.

Another simple tactic to increase your awareness, followers and sales is to host exclusive offers and giveaways on your channels. One of the key benefits to social media offers and competitions is that they are considerably more interactive than publication-based give-aways.

Telling potential customers to follow, like and retweet a post, to be in with a chance of winning a prize or receiving a discount will allow for direct engagement, more traffic driven to your page and ultimately better reach those looking to buy gifts this holiday season.

In short, it’s not too late to make the most of the Christmas shopping frenzy ahead. Last minute opportunities exist, and there’s plenty you can do to take advantage of them.

Originally published in Real Business on 29th November 2015